I have been baking layer cakes since I was six years old with tutelage from my mother. I always had success baking but in the last few years my layer cakes have been disappointing. The layers do not rise completely and are lopsided. Our old gas range was very erratic so I assumed it was the oven. Then a few years ago we splurged and purchased a convection range. I had always heard they were great for baking as they circulate the air evenly throughout the oven. The fan in the rear of the oven significantly cuts down on the inside space but I figured it was worth the compromise. OK, are you bored yet?  I’ll wrap this up soon. 

Last week I baked a Devils Food Chocolate Cake, adjusted the temperature for convection and the cake turned out lopsided and did not rise completely... again! The cake baked too quickly on the convection setting with the cake tester coming out clean before the suggested baking time. Numerous times we have checked the level on the range so I surmise that the fan blowing on the thin cake batter caused the uneven layers.

So when the cake did not turn out as planned, instead I made Mini Heart Cakes similar to these Mini Vanilla Heart Cakes. I cut out the shapes with a large heart cookie cutter, smothered them with Chocolate Ganache and garnished them with colorful sprinkles. No one would know except that I just spilled the beans! I will be going back to the regular bake setting for my next cake. To the bakers out there, I would be interested to hear about your experiences with convection baking. Please leave a comment below.

Chocolate Mini Heart Cakes
Devils Food Cake (two layers)
Chocolate Ganache
Heart Cookie Cutter (5 inch)

Devils Food Cake
2/3 cup Crisco Shortening
1½ cups Sugar
3 Eggs
2½ oz Unsweetened Chocolate, melted & cooled
2¼ cups Softasilk Cake Flour (or 2-1/8 cups Flour), sifted
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1¼ cups Buttermilk
Buttermilk Substitute: Add a little over 1 tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice to 1¼ cups milk.

Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans
In a separate bowl mix Flour, Baking Soda and Salt. Set aside.
Cream Shortening and Sugar until fluffy. Add Eggs. Add melted Chocolate.
Stir in flour mixture alternately with Buttermilk.
Pour into cake pans. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes until cake tester comes out clean. Let cool.
Cut out heart shapes with cookie cutter.
[This is the Popular Devils Food Cake recipe from the 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook]

Chocolate Ganache
1 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1 tbsp Coffee (or 1 tsp instant coffee granules)

Heat ingredients in a glass bowl over pot of simmering water until melted. Pour over cakes.
[This is the Chocolate Ganache recipe from Ina Garten at Food]



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  1. You are so creative! These look delicious and are such a great idea for valentines day!

    1. LJ, Thank you! I agree, these are cute and romantic for Valentine's Day. I think they would be fun to serve at a dinner party too.

  2. We purchased a convection oven 7 years ago and after using the convection feature to bake cookies, pizzas, etc., several times, I stopped baking on convection and just use the regular bake. Apparently, there are two types of convection ovens, one with the fan (s) and on with heat elements in the fan. Ours does not have a heat element in the fan and I think that it why my baking does not cook evenly when using the convection setting. We did not know that when we purchased the oven otherwise I would have definitely purchased one with a heating element in the fan. I'm anxiously waiting for this oven to fail on me :)
    Having said all that...your heart cakes look delicious. Great save!

    1. Hi Paula, These mini cakes were the perfect size for my little niece and nephew. I didn't know there were two types of fans used in convection ovens. That's interesting. Thank you very much for sharing your experience with convection baking..

  3. Joan, I have been baking pound cakes with my grandmother's recipe since I was 17. I even used this batter for wedding cake layers and everyone loved it. However, now that I can no longer buy RedBand Flour, my cakes will not rise correctly and have a wet fallen look when sliced, no matter what I do! It is so disheartening. I buy the best King Arthur Flour I can buy and it does not make a difference. I feel like I'm going to have to attend culinary school to learn to bake again...its been almost 40 years! Something is definitely going on!

    1. Hi Carla, I'm sorry to hear you're having baking difficulties too. It's so frustrating. Maybe something has changed in the baking ingredients since we began baking years ago. If you have not done so already, you may want to check the temperature of your oven as it may need adjustment. Also, if the baking powder is not fresh it can effect the cake rising. The only flour I've ever baked with is Gold Medal or store brand. I've never used the fancy brands. Let me know how things go and thank you for taking the time to comment.

  4. Sorry Joan....but I don't have any experience with convection baking. But I DO have experience in eating chocolate cake....and these look delish! LOVE that ganache dripping all around! : )

    1. Hi Anne, Yes everything is better with chocolate ganache!

  5. LOVE your creativity in turning something that some would have considered a 'flop' into a fabulous success! You're the queen of baking! I think ingredients are changing, I'm finding that on many products also.


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